Blogger Spotlight: Melinda Strauss

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Tell us about your blog and how you got started: Kitchen Tested is a blog devoted to cooking original, experimental and adventurous recipes and making them accessible in your own kitchen. I'll practically try anything, especially when I get recipes requests from readers, and I'll tell you all about the highs and lows of my cooking experiences. My recipes are written in a step-by-step process, including pictures along the way so the readers can practically copy the recipe without questions. I started Kitchen Tested because I was posting pictures of my kitchen adventures on Facebook and was getting tons of requests for the recipes. My wonderful friend recommended that I turn my Facebook album in to a blog and with some help from my techy brother, Kitchen Tested became a reality.

What is your earliest cooking memory? Making chocolate cake in my E-Z Bake oven! I used to sit in the kitchen while my mom cooked and I would bake right along side her. I can still taste the moist chocolate cake baked under a light bulb. Yum.

What is your favorite kitchen implement / utensil / gadget? I have a few: parchment paper, a microplane, The Fasta Pasta Microwave Cooker (trust me, this thing is amazing), glass mixing bowls, and a silicon spatula.

What's your favorite kosher dish to cook? Wow, this is a tough one! I try to cook at least one new thing every week, but my favorite kosher dish has got to be Sauerkraut Brisket in my crock pot. Comes out perfect every time and even people who say they don't like sauerkraut end up loving this dish!

Who is your cooking inspiration? I have two and I cannot chose between them because they each add something special to my life. My first is my Savtah, Adina Russak, who passed away years ago but still inspires me today. She was an incredible cook and she always made really unique and delicious food. Some of my most important food memories took place in her house: eating piles and piles of pistachios, tasting fresh homemade peppermint ice cream, chowing down on sweet and sour duck and eating watching her boil a whole tongue on the stove. My second inspiration is TV personality Andrew Zimmern. I guess he seems like an obvious choice for me since he eats bizarre food, but he always says "if it looks good, eat it" and I truly believe in that. He also says to "try everything twice" and I live my life by that rule. It's not just about food either. No matter how scared you are to try something new, it's always worth trying it at least once, maybe even twice.

Please share a favorite cooking tip or trick with our readers: If a recipe calls for buttermilk but you are making something parve, just make your own non-dairy version! For a cup of buttermilk, just add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or hot sauce to 1 cup of soy milk and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes. Now you can make buttermilk fried chicken!

Which recipes are you sharing with us today?
Veal and Leek Pot Pie
Candied Jalapenos
Peppermint Sandwich Kisses

Click to read Kitchen-Tested.